The completion of six brand new affordable homes was officially marked by the community of Middleton in Suffolk on Friday 21 October 2022.
Prior to the houses being built, there was a total of 19 affordable homes in the area of Middleton. These six new homes represent a 31.57% increase in social housing provision making a huge difference to local people and life in the village.
Once a green field site, the development includes three 2-bedroom houses for social rent, as well as one 2-bedroom house and two 2-bedroom bungalows for shared ownership. All homes have been prioritised for people with a local connection to Middleton, such as those working in the village, those with close family in the area, or those who previously lived there but were forced to move out because of a lack of affordable housing.
The homes have been designed in a local traditional style with a mix of materials to fit with the character of the village. They’ve also been built to a high energy-efficient standard to help reduce fuel bills for residents.
With the support of the local Rural Housing Enabler to identify a suitable site, works began on site in December 2020 and were completed in February 2022. The homes were developed in partnership with Middleton Parish Council, East Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council, architects Parsons + Whittley, building contractor Marfleet and Blyth, and employer’s agent Potter Raper.
Hastoe invested £958,000 into the development with an additional £330,000 from Homes England.
The village voted on a number of names for the new cul-de-sac and Roke Drive was the clear favourite. Roke is an old East Anglian term for an early morning and late evening mist. The mist runs down the field where the houses are built at certain times of the year.
All partners, as well as local councillors, attended the official completion of works including residents who had moved in this year. The occasion was commemorated with the cutting of a ribbon.
Jo Lavis, Hastoe Board member, said: “I would like to congratulate everyone who has helped deliver the community’s vision to provide these 6 affordable homes. Although it may not sound very many, these 6 homes represent more than a 30% increase in the provision of affordable homes for Middleton. Anyone with a knowledge of rural communities will know these homes make a significant difference not just to those people who live in them but to the whole community because they enable families and communities to stay together.
“As a social landlord and housing developer, Hastoe remains committed to building sustainable homes for sustainable communities. By ensuring affordable homes are available for rent and shared ownership in perpetuity, Hastoe supports individuals and families, and is proud of the work it does to enable whole communities to stay together both now and in the future.”
Resident Jennifer Merredew said: “Living in this new house has made a really big difference to my life. I was living in an old cottage in Middleton, which was dark, damp and cramped. I now enjoy having space and light, and I’m really happy to still be in the village I love. There’s room to entertain friends in the kitchen/diner which is an added bonus and a noticeable lack of drafts, which I am particularly aware of coming from a chilly cottage.”
A spokesperson for Homes England said: “Despite the current challenges affecting the country, accelerating housebuilding remains our number one priority. We are committed to supporting Hastoe Housing Association which has ambitions to build new homes, and our investment through an affordable housing grant allows us to do that. We’re delighted that this funding will enable Hastoe to deliver much needed new homes in Suffolk.”
Councillor Richard Smith MVO, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Transport Strategy and Waste, said: “This piece of land was formerly county council farmland which we no longer needed, so I am very happy to see it being put back to good use through this excellent scheme between Middleton Parish Council and Hastoe Housing Association.
“The issue of affordable rural housing continues to affect communities up and down the country so any scheme which provides much-needed homes for local young people is to be welcomed.”
Nigel Smith, former Chair of Middleton Parish Council, said: “The development at Roke Drive is most welcome, providing accommodation that is good, affordable and secure for local people, as well as bringing young families to a village with an elderly demographic.
“The project has been more than ten years in the making. The inordinate delay was down principally to funding problems, but also planning and minor logistical difficulties. Come what may, to their credit, Hastoe have stuck with us.
“The planning authority’s exception site policy provides a good way of bringing forward much-needed affordable accommodation for local people in rural areas like ours. It gives landowners a fair, but not outrageous return. Direct development by social housing providers who really care, like Hastoe, is the key to securing the accommodation that we need so badly.”